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2024 STORYFEST:

Friday, Sept. 27-Sunday, Sept. 29

DoubleTree by Hilton Columbia

2100 Bush River Road, Columbia, SC 29210

(Hotel room rate is $169 (plus tax & fees) for 1 King
or 2 Queen Beds. Reserve your room.)


2024 STORYFEST Session Descriptions:

(Subject to change without notice; locations TBA.)

Friday, September 27

Pre-Conference Masterclasses

(These are add-on events for conference registrants with an $85 additional fee. Non-conference registrants also may register for Tiffany Yates Martin's Masterclass ONLY for $85 by selecting that class as a "ticket type" in the registration form.)

1-3:30 p.m. - Masterclass #1: Renee Fountain: From Query to Contract: Mastering the Submission Process

Limit: 30 registrants

1-3:30 p.m. - Masterclass #2: Janisse Ray (topic TBA)

Limite: 30 registrants

1-4 p.m. - Masterclass #2: Tiffany Yates Martin: Mastering the Holy Trinity of Story: Character, Stakes, and Plot. Successful stories rest on a foundation of three key storytelling elements: character, stakes and plot. If any of these crucial tentpoles aren't rock-solid, the whole story may collapse — leaving you stuck on the slush pile or losing reader engagement. Authors often think they've adequately developed these basic elements in their stories, but in this practical, actionable workshop, you'll dig much deeper into how to create believable, three-dimensional characters readers invest in; how to establish compelling stakes that propel them through the story by digging deeper than just "goal-motivation-conflict'" and a clear five-step process for creating an airtight plot. We'll analyze published stories to see what makes these elements work (and what makes them falter), and you'll leave with the knowledge and tools (like helpful worksheets and checklists) to develop and strengthen your own stories. Learn how to ensure these crucial story elements are fully developed and polished to set your story apart and hook readers, agents and publishers from page one.

Limit: 30 registrants (open to public for fee)

3-5:45 p.m. - Registration

3:45-4:45 p.m. - Mindy Friddle: Write Your Novel: Tips to Propel You from Inspiration to Final Draft. Do you have a terrific idea for a novel but aren't sure how to proceed? Perhaps you are halfway through a draft and feel stuck? Maybe you're seeking ways to revise a baggy first draft into a cohesive narrative? This class will focus on ways to kickstart the writing and revising process to create a compelling novel. You'll learn about tools to structure your ideas and fine-tune the framework of your novel as well as discover techniques to help you channel your creativity – even when inspiration is running dry.

3:45-4:45 p.m. - Barbara V. Evers: Crafting Critters as Characters

6 p.m. - Welcome Remarks, SCWA President Ash Smith

6:15 p.m. - Dinner

7 p.m. - Keynote Address: Screenwriter Alan Roth, AI and Current Trends in Writing

(These authors/agents will offer individual critiques or pitch sessions on Saturday and Sunday for an extra fee of $75 for each session: Amy Collins, Renee Fountain, Andrew Geyer, Alex Rath, Chad Rhoad and Marisa Zeppieri-Caruana. Sign up for these add-ons at registration; you will be informed later of details for your submissions and the schedule for your session(s). You may register for as many as you wish for a $75 fee for each session.)

Saturday, September 28

8-9 a.m - Breakfast

9 a.m. - Keynote Address: Tiffany Yates Martin, The Happy, Harsh Truths of a Writing Career. The statistics for developing a successful writing career can be daunting for authors, who often enter this field with high expectations. But understanding and accepting the realities of the business can free an author to dictate her own path and consciously create a career that can insulate her from the publishing business' frequent ups and downs, and offer more autonomy, creative fulfillment and satisfaction. Despite the challenges of the current publishing industry, authors have more ways than ever to practice their craft and reach readers, and you can grow and sustain a happier writing career on your own terms, even in a field where so much is out of your control.

10-11 a.m. - Breakout #1 / Book to Screen: Alan Roth

10-11 a.m. - Breakout #2 / Short Story Writing: Scott Gould

10-11 a.m. - Breakout #3 / Novel vs. Story Cycle: Andrew Geyer. So you've got a book in you, but you're not sure how to write it. Or you're working on a novel, but you're stuck on page 25 (or page 50, or page 75), and you can't figure out how to get things moving again. Or you've published some good short stories, but you can't seem to sustain a book-length narrative (and no one wants to publish a miscellany of short fiction). The purpose of this session is to help you build your book . . . and get it published. We'll talk about the pros and cons of three book-length forms — novel, story cycle and composite anthology — and strategize about how to put each one together. We'll also discuss the advantages and pitfalls of collaboration. Learn which path is best for you from a writer/editor/teacher who's been doing all of the above for decades . . . and helping other writers learn to do it, too.

11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. - Breakout #4 / Queryfest: Amy Collins, Renee Fountain and Marisa Zeppieri-Caruana

11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. - Breakout #5 / Secrets, Twists and Reveals: Tiffany Yates Martin. Secrets, surprises, and twists are powerful narrative tools. They can conjure questions and mystery in readers' minds that raise suspense, stakes and reader investment — and knowing how to use them effectively can create some of the most memorable moments of your story. Stories with dangling questions and startling reveals keep readers hooked throughout, not knowing what comes next, eagerly turning pages to find out. But pulling off a successful reveal is a tricky tightrope act between giving readers enough information to feel invested and holding back enough to keep them hooked. It's the striptease of literature: show too much and you lose all the excitement and buildup. Too little and nobody cares. Learn how to pull off successful reveals by mastering three key elements: what and how much to keep as reveal, when to reveal it, and how to unspool unspool the hidden information for maximum suspense and impact. We’ll explore the difference between good mystery and bad mystery, narratively speaking — how to avoid being coy or cryptic, and losing or annoying your reader. You'll learn how to plant readers' feet and still create powerful questions in their minds that propel them through the story — and how to make sure the payoff packs a punch when it's finally revealed.

11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. - Breakout #6 / Self-Publishing: Nicole Jock and Nicholas Read

12:15-1 p.m. - Lunch

1-2 p.m. - Keynote: Grady Hendrix

2-2:50 p.m. - Breakout #7 / Writing a Plot Synopsis Without Losing Your Mind: Amy Collins

2-2:50 p.m. - Breakout #8 / Today's Publishing World Panel with Grady Hendrix, Renee Fountain, Lynn Cullen, and Nicholas Read. Barbara V. Evers, facilitator.

2-2:50 p.m. - Breakout #9 / Query Writing: Marisa Zeppieri-Caruana

3-3:50 p.m. - Breakout #10 / Writing and Publishing Poetry: Jennifer Bartell Boykin

3-3:50 p.m. - Breakout #11 /Writing Sci-Fi and Apocalyptic: Alex Rath. He will discuss how he writes science fiction and post-apocalyptic novels and stories, many with a heavy military focus, even though he's never served in the military, and still gets praise from veterans for "getting it right." He  also will discuss how to write these things in shared universes and co-writing with another author and making everything come out seamlessly in the end. Come ready with questions!

3-3:50 p.m. - Breakout #12 / Writing Horror: Grady Hendrix

3:50-4:15 p.m. - Break/Exhibits

4:15-5:15 p.m. - Breakout #13 / Writing Historical Fiction: Lynn Cullen

4:15-5:15 p.m. - Breakout #14 / Speed Pitching: Kasie Whitener

4:15-5:45 p.m. (90-minute session)- Breakout #15 / Live Edits: Tiffany Yates Martin. In more than 30 years in the publishing industry, with major "Big Five" houses and others, small presses and indie authors; award winners, bestsellers and newer writers, Martin has worked on thousands of manuscripts and knows what makes story work. Bring in a portion of your work-in-progress (one page, standard industry formatting). Martin will edit attendee submissions on the spot (randomly selected and anonymous, unless you choose to identify yourself) so everyone can see and participate in the process and witness firsthand the effect judicious editing can have on in the impact of a story and how well it engages readers. This workshop will not only help you improve your WIP based on the class feedback, but offer a visual, visceral and enlightening way to learn to polish your own stories by analyzing other people's, learning to assess and address what agents and editors see on the page, and what makes story truly effective.

5:15- 6 p.m. - Exhibits, Book Signings, Cocktails

6 p.m. - Dinner on your own

7:30-9:30 p.m. - Reading/Open Mic: Michael Murray, facilitator/host

Sunday, September 29

8-8:45 a.m. - Breakfast

8:15-9:15 a.m. - SCWA Membership Meeting

9:15-10 a.m. - Keynote Address: Lynn Cullen

10-10:50 a.m. Breakout #16 / Develop Your Memoir: Writing Prompts from a Memoirist and Developmental Editor: Cinelle Barnes

10-11:30 a.m. (90-minute session) - Breakout #18 / How to Train Your Editor Brain: Tiffany Yates Martin. Writers read — it's advice authors are given only slightly less often than "writers write." But reading for enjoyment isn't the same as reading (or watching) analytically as a writer to understand and learn craftIn this workshop, Martin will teach you the most powerful way to improve your own storytelling and self-editing skills: by learning to analyze and evaluate other people's stories with an editorial eye. We'll explore analytical skills for developing and deepening your knowledge of story craft that you can practice every day, by doing things you're already doing — reading books and watching movies and television. In this fun, practical workshop, we'll explore crucial skills in objectively seeing — and evaluating — only what's on the page, spotting things you may have been blind to in your own work, and how to make sure your vision and intentions are coming across to the reader. You'll never look at story the same way again — and that's the best way to internalize storytelling skills that will make you a stronger writer.

10-10:50 a.m. Breakout #19: Don't Build a Fanbase: Amy Collins

11 a.m.-noon - Breakout #17 / Writing Children's Stories: Dinah Johnson

11 a.m.-noon - Slushfest with Andrew Geyer, Chad Rhoad, Renee Fountain and Amy Collins

12:15-12:30 p.m. - Final Remarks: Ash Smith


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